The Daniel Webster Houses, hulking high-rises stuffed into a neighborhood already riddled with drugs and violence, contain just over 600 apartments. Built in 1965, with all the idealism of the age, the Webster Houses now stand for almost everything that is wrong with project living: staggering poverty rampant disease, and short life expectancy.
My investigator's task in the case: Find Tony.
Tony was the man that our client, (inexplicably known on the streets as Boobalock), was alleged to have shot. Tony, was a gangster himself, and he led the rootless itinerant life of someone perpetually on the run. Everyone knew him, of course—he was a fixture in the Webster Houses (where he went by the street name ‘debo’). He ostentatiously cruised his territory in a tricked out Mazda MPV, wearing the pirate eyepatch he got after the shooting. But even though Tony may have been east to spot, he was hard to talk to, and he wasn’t much interested in meeting my investigator--Ben.
Ben spent so much time tracking Tony in the Webster Houses that his usual lunchtime banter morphed into excited disquisitions on the ticket scalping business run out of several apartments, and the rivalry between Sex Money Murder bloods and the Gansta Killer Bloods. Almost every day, he had new information to share about life there and the cat and mouse game that he and Tony were playing.
Eventually, of course, Ben found him--he always did--it's what made him great. Debo was in the Ulster county jail serving some time for a drug case. And when they finally came face to face, they both chuckled about the game both had played—Debo had been holed up at his child’s mother’s house the whole time—he not only knew Ben, but could describe the make, model and color of the car he drove. As it turned out, when Ben pulled up, Debo went out the fire escape.
“Tell Boobablock, I ain’t testifying against him” Debo said. “I ain’t got no clue who shot me.”
That’s the kind of information that makes spending the better part of a month cruising the Webster houses or trekking up to the Ulster county jail worthwhile. But as with all information, what is helpful is never dispositive.
Boobalock took a plea anyhow.